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Some Trees can Turn to Glass

Most trees have somewhat of a tolerance to the cold, otherwise, they would all die. In fact, many smaller plants cannot survive winter, so they die and regrow in the spring. But with some trees, they have a rather massive cold tolerance. Let's learn a little bit more about them.

How low can it go?

Shockingly, very low. In fact, many trees can even survive being submerged in liquid nitrogen (such as the Black Locust). However, with a little bit of a caveat. A tree at room temperature being submerged may have dire effects, but if chilled down to -20 degrees Celcius beforehand, it can freeze, thaw, and thrive. Remember that Liquid Nitrogen is -196 degrees Celcius.

Few trees can survive temperatures below that. But some, like the Japanese White Birch, can survive temperatures as low as -269 degrees Celcius. This is when the tree is submerged into liquid helium, and still, live to tell the tale. Or not, as trees don't talk.

But how can trees survive these low temperatures?

How does this happen?

In short, trees survive these temperatures because they are able to turn themselves into a glass. Not from silica like normal glass, but made up of proteins and sugars. This happens because the trees are able to reduce their movement so much that they do not move at all, thus preventing ice from being able to form crystals.

"Once the molecules are in this glassy state, they can't move around, and that means they can't react," according to Richard Strimbeck, a plant physiologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

This is actually almost exactly the same way in which Tardigrades are able to survive in extremely harsh elements. Although it is strange to think why a tree would have to be able to survive such frigid temperatures.

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